04/15/12 2:35 PM ET
Phillies pay tribute to Jackie Robinson
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
It never gets old for the veteran outfielder.
"It's still one of my favorite days on the calendar of the baseball year," Pierre said. "Just the person he was, man. It's the reason we still celebrate him -- not because of what he did on the baseball field, because of the kind of man he was. I still get excited every [year] and get geared up for it."
Growing up in Louisiana, Pierre learned about Robinson from his father at a young age. In the third grade, he wrote a report on the baseball pioneer.
"Being from Louisiana the Deep South, we learned about Jackie Robinson," Pierre said. "I learned about him real early and just continued to learn about him. Just to be able to put on a big league uniform, there's not a day goes by that I don't think about him. Because you see the No. 42 in every stadium, too. So you have at least a second where you go, 'Oh, Jackie Robinson.' And then you go on."
The Phillies honored Robinson with a 15-minute ceremony before Sunday's game against the Mets. Two surviving members of the Philadelphia Stars -- pitcher Harold Gould and second baseman Mahlon Duckett -- were introduced. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and John Mayberry Jr. participated in the ceremony.
Members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, who made history at the same time Robinson became the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues, were also recognized.
In addition, a life-size, hand-carved, painted statue of Robinson was on display in Ashburn Alley, Philadelphia resident Tyanna Hudson was presented with the Phillies Jackie Robinson Scholarship and David Thomas, who will soon graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, was introduced as this year's Jackie Robinson Scholar.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.